Sunday, 7 November 2010

Gmail Fixed? Signatures

Since my last posting, I've discovered that gmail is suddenly working how it used to again. Perhaps it was all a dream!

I started adding gmail footers to my emails today, hoping that they can ensure that client's always have my details to hand. I found that after adding it and saving, it took almost three hours before they started appearing.

I also notice that they add two lines before the footer. So if you put "DAVID" as your footer, at the end of your email you will see:


Even though you never entered the "--" bit. It's not the end of the world, but worth being aware of. Especially for me. In Chinese "-" looks a lot like the character for "one", so having extra things lying around is only going to cause confusion. I can imagine emails reading "so call my number on 02231 434 223", and then the computer adds "11" on the next line. The problem is mitigated by the fact that most people don't write "-" to mean one in Chinese, they usually use "1", but a little control would have been nice!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Gmail Going Backwards?

I thought I was going crazy about this gmail "feature". When I look at my inbox, it shows one line per conversation, with each conversation showing a sentence from the most recent mail in that conversation. So I would scan down and see lots of "OK thanks please send your invoice", or "this was the wrong file, please re-send" or something like that.

Suddenly from a couple of weeks ago, the sentences now come from the original first mail in the conversation and nearly always say "David could you do this job please" so I keep having to open all the conversations.

I thought I was going crazy and nothing had actually changed, I'd had some strange dream where gmail was totally logical. Maybe it was some kind of strange trauma because they've cancelled Google Wave. But then I found quite a few discussions on line talking about the same thing:

Basically this new way of doing it sucks! When you've got conversations going back with 20 or 30 mails, seeing the original mail is not the least bit helpful. I wonder if they are trying to get us to spend more time creating folders rather than just scanning to see what we need to deal with or (CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT) they are doing it to try and get us all to use the Priority Inbox function (which is a great thing by the way, but I don't really see the point, a bit like Wave really).

Friday, 30 July 2010

New Version of OmegaT

I have just done some testing with the newly released version of OmegaT. It's 2.18 Beta. The main difference is a function called "aggregate tags" which basically reduces the number of tags on the documents by a huge amount. If you've used OmegaT in the past you may have noticed how annoying all the tags were, especially when they cause all kinds of strange problems with matching the TM. This new feature really helps a lot with that function.

I downloaded the new version from and don't forget you can leave a donation to the designers if you wish. For me the tags were a really serious annoyance so now I can think seriously about using OmegaT again.

The new release came out on the 29th of July and is still in Beta, so the default download on source forge won't get it, you have to click to see the full list of versions and get it from there. You can always check for more information.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Titles Last

When I started translating a friend suggested that I translate the main body of a paragraph first, before translating the title. That's because titles are usually shortened, and it will be easier to translate when you've read through and understood the main paragraph.

It has become second nature to me now to skip through the titles, section headings, paragraph headings and stuff like that, and jump straight onto the main text. I was translating a document last week where I had totally misunderstood the title. It was only when I'd translated the actual text, that I could go back and change the title, where I had misunderstood what the writer meant.

It always reminds me of the sentence "man eating chicken". It would be a good idea to read on and look at whether or not the following sections talks about a giant chicken, or a man sitting in Nando's before deciding how to translate the title. I've also noticed a lot of people get stuck and discouraged on the titles or section headings when they don't really need to.

So that may be some great advice.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Xingneng - Performance of a Computer / Properties of a chemical

One word which I often find mistranslated in Chinese to English technical translations is the Chinese word "性能 (xingneng).

If you look in the Wenlin dictionary for example. The definition is:

性能 xìngnéng n. natural capacity; function (of machine/etc.); property | Zhè ¹tái diànnǎo ∼ bùcuò. This computer has a good capacity.
33.2 average occurrences per million characters of text

So in a sentence like "the phone's xingneng are good" a lot of translators would tend to use something like "the phone's properties are good". However, when refering to technology xingneng usually means something like performance. As in "a high performance computer". So "the phone has good performance" would be the best translation.

In other instances it can refer to properties as in "chemical properties". Usually properties is used for biological terms or physical things, whereas performance is used for computers, phones, and other electronic devices.

Unfortuntaly a lot of dictionaries haven't caught up to this usage.

Friday, 23 April 2010

TO3000 verus Excel

There's nothing I love more than using technology to save time. I just find that when I use Trados or Dejavu or whatever for my translation work, it really doens't save much time at all. The reason is that I've never done a big enough document in one go that was repetitive enough for them to really become useful. The only advantage to owning them from my perspective is that from time to time some of my clients do ask that I use those formats, so I have to be able to use it.

I've just downloaded a free trial of a program called TO3000. It's basically a piece of software which helps with invoicing, and handling payments etc from clients. My current solution is to use excel along with a few macros of my own. The question is can TO3000 actually speed up my work. I'm playing with it at the moment, but my feeling is that it won't save me much time at all.

I just think that with the rather low volumes of work that I tend to get, there isn't really any technology that will save me much time. Maybe if I was starting out from scratch the software would have been really useful. The first few invoices I created took me ages to do, but then when I'd done them I basically just cut and paste and invoices take me seconds. Maybe I could have saved a lot of time in the begining.

If the software cost around 40-50GBP maybe it would be worthwhile, but for more than 150GBP I just don't think it will pay for itself. I'm still in the process of looking through the software and I'll post a better review when I've done so.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Carbon Capture and Storage Or Sequestration

Here's an interesting thing that might come in handy. If you look at the Chinese expression for Chinese Capture and Storage you will often see it translated as "Carbon Capture and Storage" and also you will see it translated as "Carbon Capture and Sequestration". Now for quite a while I couldn't figure out why there seems to be a difference in the terms. Dictionary definitions of "storage and sequestration" are similiar.

Looking around at some websites such as the China Dialouge, I also found that they were seemingly translated randomly. Until I came across a nice rule.

Storage and Sequestration are basically the same thing. However by convention sequestration is increasingly being used for under land (as opposed to ocean) storage. So when takling about Norways big CSS projects (which take place out at sea) we should probably say "storage", but when talking about anything else we should probably say "sequestration".

However, there is another important consideration. When talking about land storage, both sequestration and storage are appropriate. The choice comes down to a more subtle distinction.

Sequestration basically means seperation. As in "the seperation of church and state", this means "the seperation of the captured carbon from the atmosphere". This is slightly different to storage which suggest you may wish to use it later for something. So when talking about EOR (enhanced oil recovery) where they use the carbon to increase the amount of oil they can mine, maybe they are not planning to use the carbon for anything, and sequestration might be better, but when they are talking about something like trapping the carbon and then using it later for industrial applications, maybe storage is better.

Another consideration is consistency. It would be strange to keep switching between storage and sequestration unless it is necessary. Although sequestration normally means on land, it can also be used for ocean storage just as well. Probably the best bet is to use "storage" unless you are certain that "sequestration" has a more appropriate meaning.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Deja Vu Free Trial

Last time I used Dejavu (a translation software package) before this week was about a year or so ago, and I remember it seemed very unstable at that time. There was also the annoying problem of having to plug in this dongle which doens't work well for my laptop because my USB cuts out from time to time for no reason.

I downloaded and used a 30 day trial of the program this week and I was actually quite impressed. It didn't seem to be as buggy as I remember it at all. It ran rather nicely with my Windows 7. I'm not sure if the fully paid version would come with a dongle or not, but I've quite enjoyed using the programme.

I still have a really serious gripe with it which is to do with the tags. In Chinese the tags are virtually never going to be in the same place as they are in English. In fact the tags will very rarely even cover the same sections of text that the English text requires. One of the major reasons for this is that Chinese doesn't have any articles (the, an, a), whereas English has them before virtually every single sentence. Having to keep moving the tags around seems like a lot of extra work just to accomdate the word "a".

I can't really think of a purely technical way to solve the tags problem though. I guess the system could look and decide whether an article is needed and try to automatically suggest the new location. It might be able to look at the form of the word. A better solution is to bear things like that in mind during the creation of the Chinese document.

I'm still not convinced that dejavu would save me any money with my own personal way of working, and it seems rather expensive, but thankfully it's cheaper than Trados.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Annoying Word Bug

Ocassionally I work on very large word documents. I've find twice now that they get a really annoying but if you have a lot of text in tables. What happens is that if you scroll up and down with the page up and page down keys it works OK, but if you use the up and down directional keys or if you scroll up with the mouse, text text becomes extremely buggy and the wrong sentences appears to overwrite other sentences.

I'm wondering if this is a problem which wouldn't occur on a 64 bit machine. I've heard quite a few people saying that Windows 64 bit allows much much larger and more complex spreadsheets, so I would assume to does the same for Word documents.

The cut off point seems to be on around 60 pages. Has anyone else had any experience with this problem?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Transition to Windows 7

I have two (supposedly) identical laptops. I mainly use one, but always keep a backup on the other so the most I'll ever loose is a days work.

There are a lot of things to talk about regarding the problems of keeping two identical laptops. I've decided its time to upgrade from XP to Windows 7. So I spent the day a few days ago installing Windows 7 over my Vista machine (it was originally Vista but I hated it so much I rolled back to XP). It installed nicely right on top without any special changes.

So far I've had no complaints and its been able to run all my software including some of the rarer translation and dictionary stuff. All my free software like Avira, VLC, firefox installed with absolutly no problems too.

So over all I'm rather happy with Windows 7. I'll keep one laptop on XP and the other in Windows 7 for a while and if it still goes well in a couple of months I'll try to upgrade the other one too.

This leads me to my main gripe! In order to do this I will have to buy two separate copies of Windows 7. I don't think keeping two laptops is particularly unusual and i don't think I should be made to pay 130GBP for another copy. What bugs me is that Microsoft continually do little things like that to make a bit of extra profit here and there, and they then complain about software piracy.

I'm not supporting piracy, but in cases like mine I've actually got quite a lot of sympathy for people who feel hard done by.

However, Windows 7 has so far run very well! A huge improvement on Vista, and almost as good as XP!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Trados Studio

Hi guys,

Some people may be interested in using Trados Studio. It's the new "version" of Trados workbench. Basically a powerful translation tool. I suspect that any professional translators either know of it, or use it.

Trados Studio is a new system, a bit like Windows 7 to Workbench's Windows Vista.

At the moment a lot of people are undecided whether or not it's worth the investment. For me personally I have to say no, because I don't get anything like the volume of work needed for it to pay for itself. It's easily possible for me to do all my jobs slowly and carefully without any CAT tools unless otherwise requested by the client.

So if you are considering Studio there's a nice little blog out there:

It's a guy who is trying to get used to using Trados Studio and blogging his findings as he does so. You may wish to check it out!

Take care,

Friday, 29 January 2010

A Nice Little Application

When translating, I'm always having to save things here and there, and backup stuff here and there and download this and that.

I found a little app that's incredibly small and does something which sounds totally pointless but is actually pretty nice. When you click save in XP (and Visa) you get a selection popup asking which folder you want to save to. Now one thing I always have to do is navigate backwards and forwards in this folder looking for my directory. Sometimes I save drafts in a different location to originals for example so I have to go up and down directories.

On the left hand side of that little save prompt that pops up the computer gives a couple of default locations. I think it gives "My computer", "Desktop", "C:/" or something along those lines. With this little application The Places Bar Tweaker from isoIsland you can edit the folders that appear on the left hand side. So now I've got three links to my most commonly used translation folders.

Effectively it's totally cut down on the time I need to spend going up and down while saving documents. In all honesty it probably doens't save that much time, but its nice to be able to do it without all that trouble and makes the day a bit more pleasant.

So if you need it why not google isoIsland or Place Bar Tweaker and see if you can find it. It's really really tiny and very friendly.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Translation Dictionary Review Converter

Another quick review of a translation resource. This is called the "English to Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) and Chinese to English Converter Software" produced by

I've tried to use it a few times, but I've generally not liked it very much. It may be more appropriate for people who need longer strings translated, but then I would then prefer to use something like google translate or babelfish.

The software opens as a window in Microsoft and allows you to enter a great big string of text; it also allows you to load text from a text file. Once it's open you enter your text into the box and click translate and it translates it for you.

I guess the main advantage is that it's possible to translate a big string at once rather than having to enter one word at a time. The main problem from my perspective is that as a freelance technical translator I never really need long strings translated in that way. I just need to look up little terms from time to time.

The most annoying thing about it by far is that it has a really annoying pop up box telling you to click here and have license emailed to you. It also pops up over other windows when it's open, so for example as I'm writing this review with it open in another window the pop up is covering part of my screen! I find that extremely annoying and for that reason I've hardly ever used this software.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Translation Tools Review - Wakan Dictionary

Just another quick review of a translation tool I sometimes use. This is another electronic dictionary which is available in both Chinese and Japanese. It's called Wakan and is widely available online if you do a search.

It's hard to talk about pluses and minuses of this dictionary. The main good points are that the system has slightly different definitions to my other dictionaries, so if I'm concerned about a particular term, I can always check it here and see what this has to say. In terms of features, there's nothing here I use that isn't available in any of the other dictionaries I've discussed, but then you don't really need anything other than the ability to enter a term and see the definitions. Certainly things like the stroke count and radical lookups in Wenlin are occasionally useful but really not essential.

The main problem with the dictionary is that it seems to require you to enter terms in pinyin rather than cutting and pasting Chinese characters into it. One of the reasons I might use a dictionary is if there is a term I have never seen before, and in those cases I can seldom guess the pronunciation. It just means I use another dictionary first.

All in all, it is nice to have more than just one dictionary, and although basic, these definitions seem to be OK, and can be helpful. In terms of features, it isn't strong enough to overtake any of the other commercial dictionaries as first choice, but is a nice addition. For some users, the Japanese functionality may also be useful.